Newspaper article International New York Times

Steel Giant Offers Hope for Recovery in Europe ; Losses at ArcelorMittal Narrow as Demand from Automakers Increases

Newspaper article International New York Times

Steel Giant Offers Hope for Recovery in Europe ; Losses at ArcelorMittal Narrow as Demand from Automakers Increases

Article excerpt

The steel and mining giant reduced its losses in the first quarter, with a small profit in Europe pointing to the start of a turnaround.

ArcelorMittal, the steel and mining giant, said Friday that it had a loss of $200 million in its first quarter, less than the $345 million loss it posted for the period a year earlier and a sign that conditions were improving in the steel industry, considered a proxy for overall economic activity.

The company's crucial European operations reported a small operating profit of $80 million after a long series of losses. Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, ArcelorMittal has been closing plants on the Continent and cutting jobs, leading to heavy write-offs.

ArcelorMittal also reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $1.75 billion, which was slightly ahead of analysts' forecasts of $1.72 billion, according to Citigroup.

Lakshmi N. Mittal, the chief executive, said in a statement Friday that the figures showed "the improved year-over-year performance of our business driven by recovering steel markets." The company, which is based in Luxembourg, said its steel shipments increased 2.4 percent worldwide.

In an interview, Mr. Mittal said there had been little disruption of the company's large steel business in Ukraine, which depends on shipping through Odessa, a port city where 40 supporters of pro- Russian groups were killed in street fighting and a fire last week. While demand for the plant's products has fallen by about 50 percent in Ukraine and Russia, he said by telephone, the business has been able to compensate by increasing exports to other markets like the Middle East. "We are shipping what we are producing," he said.

In what looks like at least the start of a turnaround, the company said its steel production in Europe rose 4.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013, to 10. …

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